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Issue 85 - Taking Flight

Whisky Magazine Issue 85
January 2010


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Taking Flight

In 2010 Belgium will get serious about whisky. Dominic Roskrow travelled to Liege to meet one of the country's distilling pioneers.

Great beer. Chocolate. Hercule Poirot. Moules et frites.

Eurocrats. The European President. Sprouts... Belgium is famous for several things, but whisky isn't among them.

Even by the relatively modest European whisky achievements Belgium has slipped under the radar. Although it produces the world's finest beers, its grain-produced alcohols have tended to be distilled into genever rather than whisky. What whisky there is is produced by four and possibly five distilleries, all of them with roots in genever or other fruit liqueurs.

The results are patchy. At least one produces a spirit that is to our common understanding of what whisky should taste like what Kaliber Low Alcohol beer is to a fully fermented Belgian Trappist ale.

Another is producing a three grain whisky that it didn't even realise was whisky until it was pointed out by a visiting journalist.

Belgium, it is fair to say, is been very much on the fruity whisky fringes.

All that, though, might be set to change.

Indeed, we may look back in a few years time on the year 2010 as the year Belgium stepped up to the whisky plate.

Ted Bruning's excellent article on the Anker Distillery at Mechelen near Brussels revealed that some time in the coming months the distillery will start producing malt spirit in Scottish copper stills.

And if all goes to plan The Owl Distillery, the country's oldest single malt whisky producer, will also step up its operation, invest in Scottish stills, and start seeking new markets for its...

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